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HART vandalized overnight and dog missing

BAXTER — Heartland Animal Rescue Team (HART) was vandalized early Tuesday morning with the words “Killers” and “U Kill” spray-painted on the building.

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said someone broke into the HART building and did extensive property damage. Exsted said the suspect also released all the dogs that were in the impound area of the animal rescue shelter.

Fortunately, with the help of one of the impound dogs — a pit bull named “Angel” — all the dogs, but one were rescued and brought back to HART.

Exsted said around 1 a.m., an officer located a stray dog at Dellwood Drive and Wise Road and when transporting it to HART, the officer found that the building had been burglarized.

“This does not appear to be a random act,” said Exsted. “The clues lead us to believe that the suspect had a specific intent behind this whole incident.”

Exsted said all but one dog was found and police plan to talk with the missing dog owner.

Donna Wambeke, HART executive director, said HART has had people threaten the organization before, but no one has ever followed through on their threats.

“It did not surprise me,” Wambeke said when she got the call about the vandalism. “I had a conversation with a dog owner yesterday (Monday) who was not cooperative.”

Wambeke said there was a dog that was impounded on a 10-day hold for biting a child. Wambeke said the owner never came forward until Monday, after police gave HART the paperwork for the dog to be euthanized. Wambeke said the owner had to pay a $600 impound fee, or $50 a day, for the dog to be released and they would have to go through the proper channels.

Wambeke said there were eight dogs in the impound area at HART. The impound area is where the dogs at large are housed. Wambeke said there were around 50 animals total in the building, but the other animals were left in their kennels.

After seeing all the damage that was done, Wambeke said she is pleased that none of the animals were injured.

“You can fix the building,” said Wambeke. “But you can’t replace the animals.”

Wambeke said they named the pit bull “Angel” on Tuesday.

“When all the dogs got outside Angel kept them all corralled up the best she could,” said Wambeke. “And she was protective when the officers came in. The other dogs ranged in size from a pug to a lab.”

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at